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Niger Opposition Vows to Undermine Controversial Constitution 


Niger's opposition has vowed to "kill" the new constitution after a Constitutional Court validated the controversial referendum that extended Presidential Mamadou Tandja's term for three more years.

The embattled president recently disbanded and reconstituted the Constitutional Court after it ruled the referendum illegal.

Tandja claimed the extension of his term was necessary to fulfill "the will of the people." But the opposition dismissed it as a ploy to perpetuate himself in power and loot the country's new-found natural resources like uranium and oil.

Abdul Kamardine, a human rights activist told VOA that Nigeriens are overwhelmingly opposed to the new constitution.

"The civil society is saying no to the new constitution. The civil societies are joining hands with the political opposition to fight this new program of President Tandja… and together they are planning some demonstrations on the 19th, 20th and 21st of this month," Kamardine said.

He said opponents of the referendum want to defy President Tandja's decree.

"After those demonstrations, they are planning to recall the former members of the House of Assembly because they said all what Tandja is doing is illegal," he said.

Kamardine said a constitutional provision allows Nigeriens to resist oppression.

"So, as he is actually doing illegal things, they are going to fight because the former constitution in one of its articles (calls) on the people to resist whatever is illegal when someone is trying to walk on the old constitution," Kamardine said.

He said Nigeriens are expressing displeasure over the destruction of their democracy.

"They are saying it is too bad that after 10 years of full democracy, they can't understand why he is trying to destroy everything," he said.

Kamardine said the opposition is refusing to divulge details of its plans to challenge the new constitution.

"They say they will not tell how they are going to do it but said definitely, they will do it. So we are waiting to see. You know the other time during the voting day they called (on) the population to stay home and the population did," Kamardine said.

Tandja has won accolades for bringing stability to Niger and improving the economy.

But both the local and international communities have condemned the referendum as undermining the county's fledgling democracy.

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